View Full Version : Trip Report: Australia-USA

Mr Smith
2006-02-11, 07:12 AM
Australia-Usa Trip Report- QF/UA F-J-Y+ and Y.

Route-Per-Mel Qantas
Date-16 Jan 2006
Flight Number-QF 476
Aircraft Type-767-336
Flight Time-3hr 10min

Well, the time had come again for me to set off on another US trip to complete some unfinished business, this journey would take me as far south as Miami, east to New York and west to San Francisco, LA and Vegas. Leaving everything til the last minute was a great idea, i ended up not packing rubbish i didn't need! much relief at having a light suitcase! Today my mum would be my ride to the domestic airport, we set off just after 11am and arrived just after 1130am, parked the car in a spot i find handy when you don't want to pay! walked over to Qantas domestic and checked in for my flight to Melbourne.

Checkin was a little busy, Brisbane and a few other flights were also leaving at the same time as my flight, waited about 20mins for the process to be completed. Mum and i went up to the lounge and grabbed a coffee and stared out into space at the quiet Perth apron.

Boarding started a little late due to the late arrival of the plane, VH-ZXA 'Jervis Bay' would my ride east today, it's a plane i've flown in quite a few times! Said my goodbyes and promptly boarded and went to seat 51A, had a young medical student who just returned from tsunami affected Sri Lanka, he had some interesting stories to tell!

Just on 1300 we pushed off the gate for our departure off runway 21, taxied slowly out with the usual view of the "mound" spotting area, we held for a few minutes then lined up for a rolling takeoff. Pretty short roll with a rather light load for the flight.

Lunch was served, the meal on today's flight was chicken and rice, salad and the compulsary warm VB! beats me why they are never cold, tastes terrible warm too! food was pretty good for a changem atleast it wasn't the usual braised beef!

I popped down the rear of the cabin after lunch and took a few cabin photos, then went back and watched Tim Burtons 'Corpse Bride', Qantas always has great films, no exception again today!

We flew over the bite, straight over Melbourne airport then headed back north and finally turned south for landing on runway 16, we got to the gate a little behind time, baggage as usual was slow! Melbourne is the only airport i've found that has baggage efficiency problems in Australia. Made my way to the hotel and crashed out, next morning it was up early and out n about with Brendan V, Alex W and Dave C, as usual it was a fun day! A big thanks to them for taking time out and for getting on the piss and playing cricket between movements!


Route-Mel-Lax United
Date-18 Jan 2006
Flight Number-UA 840
Aircraft Type-747-400
Flight Time-13hr 50 including stop in Sydney

Walked over to the international terminal just before 10am for checkin for the flight to Los Angeles, the que was empty so i was greeted immediately by the business class agent, she checked my bags through to Los Angeles, gave me my boarding pass which had me seated in the upper deck for this flight. I made my way to customs and passed by pretty quickly, amazing how many people neglect to fill out the green departure card though! Headed for the Air NZ/Red Carpet Club downstairs and grabbed a bite to eat, had some lovely sandwiches and pastries, few OJ's and some fresh fruit...all the good stuff that i don't normally eat!

shortly after 1230pm the boarding call was made for all passengers on UA 840 to Los Angeles, i headed up to the gate and passed through and went straight upstairs to my seat, this flight was quite light on because it stops in Sydney enroute. Bang on time and we pushed back for a departure off runway 16, was hoping for 27 but today it didn't happen! The flight up to Sydney took just on 50 mins, we were served some bread rollups, fruit and coffee, the cabin attendant looking after us also gave me a free magnum of Champaigne, it went down well at the Radisson in LA.

The food wasn't much to write home about, bread was stale and very dry, fruit was nice as was the gin and tonic, but it could have been better!

We landed in Sydney on 16R, i headed back through security and over to the red carpet club, grabbed some food, checked emails then went back and re-boarded the flight to LA. I had the usual security crap, but other than that it was pretty smooth.

We pushed off gate 63 and made our way out for departure off 16R, long take off roll as expected on this 13hr flight across the pacific, after getting airborne we turned east and headed out over the pacific, no daylight or land for the better part of 12hrs!

Soon after departure the cabin crew came around with drinks, i went for my usual Bailey's on ice which i love, the menu was handed out, todays meals were.

To Begin

Smoked Salmon and Ham appertizer, Gravlax, Kalamata Olives and Aioli.
Fresh Seasonal Greens.

Main Meal
Filet Mignon with Borderlaise sauce and Mushrooms, Potatoes and Green Beans.

International Cheese Platter
Heritage Brie, Kapiti Cheddar

those were the meals that i had on the flight, the appertizer was quite nice, the beef was cooked to perfection but cold as ice, i took one bite and said to the girl next to me, how cold is your meal? her's was ok, mine was indeed inneed of heating! nothing worse than cold steak! but atleast the beef was Australian. I finished most of the meal besides the beef, the cabin crew then came around and handed out dessert, i scoffed that down and then decided it was time to go to sleep.

The UA business seat is fairly comfortable i've found, the room you have is amazing, the seat is not flat but i find it more comfortable than flat beds. I pretty much slept for 11hrs of the flight, was woken about 90mins from LA for breakfast.

Fresh Seasonal Fruit Plate and Creamy Yoghurt.

had this meal before in Business Class, which is why i went for it, can't beat a healthy start to the day!

soon after we were starting our descent into Los Angeles, we made our approach and landed smoothly on 25L just after 1030am, a short taxi to the gate then it was off to customs. Very fast this morning so was out of the airport within 10mins and over at Alamo collecting the rental car.

Another sound performance on UA, i arrived feeling fresh and ready to hit the hill and the Radisson hotel.


Route-Lax-Ewr United
Date-20 Jan 2006
Flight Number-UA 98
Aircraft Type-A319
Flight Time-4hr 40min

After 2 days of fun with Danny Fritsche and Cam Bowerman it was time to move on, not without heading to the JP Getty museum first, then back to Lax for a few night shots, I checked the rental car back in just before 8pm and took the shuttle back to Lax, checked in for my United flight to Newark airport, used the business class area so it was fast and painless, TSA was a breeze for a change, Grabbed a beer at the bar and then went over to board our A319 flight to Newark.

Was a rather light flight tonight, i had the seat blocked next to me, though i find it strange that a coast to coast flight like this see's the passenger get no free meal! pretty poor if you ask me! We pushed a few minutes late and then headed out as number 3 for departure off 25R, roll was smooth and take off and climb also, we made the usual left turn then headed back across the field, direct to Vegas, St Louis, Illinois then onwards to Newark.

I had the tomato juice and nuts then decided to go to sleep, red eye is a pain but you gotta do what you gotta do! We arrived a little early on 22L, i then headed straight to the airport hotel shuttle and freshened up at my hotel, Called my mate Mike and we hit up the airports for the day.

In the evening it was the annual slide show dinner and show courtesy of Anne and Art Brett, If you've not met them then your missing out, 2 of the nicest people i know and i've been fortunate enough to spend time with them on 3 seperate occasions, we had the buffet dinner with the "usual suspects" then headed to Art's for the slide show competition!

checkout the results from the night by clicking this link!

another splendid evening with some amazing photos, a big thanks to Art and Anne, Mike Primamore and all the crew that showed up!

Next days were crappy weather so i ordered in and roamed the discount mall opposite the hotel.


Route-Ewr-Ord United
Date-24 Jan 2006
Flight Number-UA 975
Aircraft Type-A319
Flight Time-2hr

Early morning checkout and it was on the shuttle for the airport, this time off to Chicago then Miami, checkin was fast and easy, the TSA line was long and strong and getting the aggitation on! I was seated in first class but by the time i got through it was to late to even get to the lounge. I headed to the gate and boarded the flight which would take 2hrs to get to Chicago, we departed off 22L just behind schedule, Breakfast was served but it was terrible so i left most of it, cold croissant and fruit with coffee, the fruit and coffee were good, the rest i left! We landed on 27R and proceeded to the gate, I quickly left the plane and made my way via the underpass back to the TED gates.


Route-Ord-Mia United/Ted
Date-24 Jan 2006
Flight Number-UA 1440
Aircraft Type-A319
Flight Time-2hr 55

A few minutes late, a few gate changes and we were ready to board our flight down to Miami, with all onboard we pushed back and headed out for departure off 27L, the takeoff roll was very bumpy due to the high winds, you could really feel the plane being tossed about as we maintained our position on the runway. Once airborne we headed out of the lakes, lovely view of Chicago then proceeded south to Miami.

Once again it was juice and nut's on the flight, after that i switched on CH9 and went to sleep, just on 2.5hrs in the air and we begun our descent into Miami airport, we landed on 26L and made our way to the terminal, i have to tell you i was shocked at the terrible state of the terminal, much worse than LA! needs a good wash and refit! Grabbed my car and went off to meet with my mate Tony Russo who was staying with me...Made it to the holes and rattled off a few shots! well a few thousand to be precise over the 4 days!


Route-Mia-Ord-Las United/Ted
Date-28 Jan 2006
Seat-1A & 2F
Flight Number-UA 1525
Aircraft Type-A320
Flight Time-3hrs/3hrs 40

Ok so i had to get up early to return the car, in the US when you turn your car on the lights go on also, i didnt notice they were on during the day so when i went to drive off in the morning the car was dead! Alamo sent the guy to jump start me and soon after i was on my way along the freeway to the airport! No traffic and no dramas! used the curbside checkin and went straight to the gate, TSA was again pretty good, grabbed a coffee and waited for boarding.

Upon boarding i was sat next to a gorgeous girl named Kate, we got talking and spoke for the whole flight, exchanged contact info and enjoyed a coffee, we pushed back and headed out for runway 27, my biggest regret was not having my camera out to shoot the DC's on the ramp! flight was just on 3hrs up to Chicago and was spent talking to Kate the whole time, we made our approach and landed again on 27L and made our way back to the TED terminal.

Kate waited the 90 mins with me, we grabbed some Starbucks and took some photos around the terminal, then it was time for me to jump on the same plane and head out to Sin City! We used 32L for departure and climbed out smoothly for the flight to Vegas, i bought a roll and coffee with me, so that was my source of food for the flight!

3hr of the flight i spent sleeping, i fall asleep easily on planes so it's no drama for me! upon waking we were making our approach to Vegas bound for runway 25L, on my right was the view of the "strip".

We landed a little before time, grabbed my luggage and hire car then drove off to LA to meet up with some friends for a few more days spotting, drive took just on 3hrs, then add another 1hr for the LA traffic! After a long day i ended up at the Westin Hotel and crashed out pretty quick! We also enjoyed a lovely meal at the Proudbird restaurant which overlooks 25L arrivals! Well worth a visit and great value! On the 30th it was time to gun it back to Las Vegas, this time i stopped along the way to enjoy the view, some Greek food and the fresh air, me being part Greek found it crazy to find a kebab shop in the middle of the desert! Great food though!


Route-Las-Lax United/Ted
Date-1 Feb 2006
Flight Number-UA 1471
Aircraft Type-A320
Flight Time-45min

Now for the weird flight routing, i had to fly from Vegas to La to New York just to get back to San Francisco, all that in 15hrs! So i checked out of the hotel, met up with Dave Budd and his girlfriend Michelle and spent the day spotting and talking with them, was a lovely day and great to have a ladder to shoot from! I decided to hang around after they left and shoot some more photos, then it was time to take back the car and checkin for the flights, my bag was tagged to SFO which was a help! the agent couldn't believe what i was about to do, neither could i for that matter!

I popped into Wulfgang Puck's pizza shop and had a few beers and a spicey chicken pizza! devine it was too, then i went to the boarding gate and took up my seat for the short flight, our captain, an African/American came out into the cabin and addressed us, it was fantastic! he was very jovial and happy doing what he did! Shortly after we pushed back and made our way out to 25L, of course i was on the wrong side of the plane so i missed the view of the strip, not that it bothered me because i took ample photos!

We climbed to 28000 feet, stayed for about 10mins then descended for landing on runway 25L at LA, we made our way to the gate and i jumped off and made my way to the New York flight, UA 839 was parked on the gate next to ours and bound for Sydney.


Route-Lax-Jfk United PS
Date-2 Feb 2006
Flight Number-UA 32
Aircraft Type-757-200
Flight Time 5hrs

Got on the plane only to find that 10 others would be joining us, lovely quiet flight! for once i was happy to be on a redeye and could stretch out for the flight, we pushed a little late then headed out for runway 25R departure, we were offered a snack, which was terrible to be honest! the bread was soggy and not worth eating, i ate the pack of chips then went to sleep! After 4.5hrs we begun our descent into Kennedy airport, we made our approach onto 31L and then headed back to terminal 7 for our gate, all up a pretty easy and nontaxing flight.

I hung around the airport and noticed that "Oscar 1" was operating today, this is the flight that carries the academy award trophy from Kennedy to La, sure enough star chef Wolfgang Puck was there along with some other celebs who i didn't recognise. I stuck around and took a few pics just for my collection.

I then headed down and picked up my boarding pass to San Francisco, grabbed some food then boarded at gate 10 for the flight back out west!


Route-Jfk-Sfo United PS
Date-2 Feb 2006
Flight Number-UA 11
Aircraft Type-757-200
Flight Time -6hr

So, i've just left the west coast night before and i' headed right back, boarded at gate 10 and had the middle seat closed off, we pushed ontime and headed out for departure off 22L, we had a commanding view of the Manhattan skyline, then turned towards Robbinsville and headed west on our 6hr flight to San Francisco, meal on this flight Lasagne and a salad, very nice too! then it was off to sleep seeing as i'd just been coast to coast 3hrs earlier!

i wokeup just as we begun entering Utah state, shortly after we began our descent for a 28R arrival at San Francisco airport, upon arrival it was off to get the car then over to the hotel to checkin, drove myself down to pier 39 for some clam chowder! it's a must do in San Francisco!


Route-Sfo-Syd United
Date-5 Feb 2006
Flight Number-UA 863
Aircraft Type-747-400
Flight Time-13hrs 20

I spent the day spotting because it was a rare day that the 10's and 19's were being used for landings and takeoff's, i met with Ian Gunawan and a few other local guys, also had Kevin Cooke with me for the morning, after dropping him off for his flight i met up with Cam Bowerman again and we went and shot from some other places! sorry about the fine mate!

after the sun had gone it was time for me to return the car and head over to the terminal, checked in a headed through security and then went and grabbed a sushi boat! food was lovely and fresh and prepared in front of me, had a nice hot sake with it also. We were boarding through gate 94 for this ultra long flight back home, with the boarding starting 45mins before deprature to ensure an ontime push, we pushed back and headed out for 28L, take off roll was close to 55 seconds, we were as usual pretty heavy!

Soon after reaching our assigned altitude it was drinks time, i had another Baileys on ice and had the pasta for dinner, exact same meal that i had on the JFK-SFO flight, something about variety and lack of it rings true here! After dinner i fell asleep courtesy of a tablet, i slept for 11hrs of this flight, CH9 is not on as it's all HF and very little communication is heard! Shortly before arrival we were served breakfast, i went for the pancakes which were devine! lovely way to start the morning to say the least!

We commenced our descent into Sydney for landing on 16R, we were 50min early today! we proceeded to the gate and deplaned pretty quickly. Now here is where the going gets rough, rude or whatever you want to call it!

I was processed by customs pretty fast, then there are 7 or so waiting in the carousel area, a woman agent comes up and says
'Give me your passport'
'please would be nice, until then i won't give it to you' she then said to me
'Sir what's with your attitude?'
' how about showing some politeness when asking for papers'
'I then told her i have a flight to Perth to catch and want to get out of here fast.
'your not doing yourself any favors
'your not doing me any either'.
'where have you been'
'Well the USA, it's clearly written on the card'
her 'why'
'holiday it's all on the card'
'what do you do for work and who for'
'i work for the govt, so it went on and on'

She handed my papers back and i walked away shaking my head directly in front of her.

Waiting at the carousel for my bag, another one comes up.
'Whats the weather like in the USA?'
'How should i know, I'm in Australia now'
'Are you ok?'
'Yes, i didn't appreciate your partners rudeness though'
'Where are you goin?'
'Home to Perth and i really want to make that flight'

and low and behold my bag arrives and i go to exit the goods to declare land and another comes and gives me the 3rd degree.

'Sir, where have you been?'
'USA, don't you already know that by now?'
'just checking, proceed over that way'
'i was going to do that anyways, don't you communicate with each other, this is the 3rd time in 5 mins i've been questioned'.
'no reply'
'this place is far worse than LA'!

so i finally made it through the crap and checked in at the domestic transfer for my flight home, i asked the agent what it was with customs and the rudeness and making citizens feel like they are criminals, she said it happens alot, great welcome home or for tourists! Met with Will Mallinson and sat at the esky bar for a while, was good to breath fresh air!


Route-Syd-Mel Qantas
Date-7 Feb 2006
Flight Number-QF 423
Aircraft Type-767-300
Flight Time-1hr 5

We were running late as this plane had arrived late from its destination, once onboard we headed out for 16R departure and the hour long flight to Melbourne, a cake and coffee was served, before we knew it we begun our descent into Melbourne and landed on runway 16, made our way over to gate 21 and jumped off only to find out i'd be getting straight back on her!


Route-Mel-Per Qantas
Date-7 Feb 2006
Flight Number-QF 769
Aircraft Type-767-300
Flight Time-3hr 45

enough time for a toilet break and then it was back on 'Mornington' for the flight back to Perth, it was not a full flight which was great, the lady next to me noted some spare rows in the back, she asked if i was ok seeing that i was quite sweaty and coughing alot, i told her i am exhausted and have the flu also, she went down back and asked the stewards if they had any spare rows, the last row was laid out with pillows and blankets for me! now i know why i fly Qantas domestic and should do so more internationally!

We departed off 27 for our 3hr 45min flight back to Perth, the flight was quite rough in parts where we were at a lower altitude, after reaching higher it was lunch time, pasta and Oj for me, then straight back to sleep. I wokeup with about 15 mins remaining of the flight, i had no window and was in the last row of the plane so i had no perspective of our location, i believe we landed on 24, it was a very hard landing also! taxied off and docked and disembarked and headed home.


all up a fantastic trip again!

a big thanks to the following for making it fun!


Brendan Vanderwerf, Alex Watts, David Carey


Danny Fritsche, Cameron Bowerman, Brian Futterman, Josh Akbar, Eric Dunetz, Mike Evans and Mike Carter, it was a pleasure to meet you!


Mike Primamore, thanks for the great day out and the conversation! Art and Anne Brett, Brian, Josh, Phil, Ron, Senga, Eric, Mario, Shoshana, Mel, Tom Turner! thank god you didn't get lost this time! Tom Alfano. this is a special bunch of people who i have always enjoyed spending time with! thanks guys.


Tony Russo

Las Vegas

Dave Budd and Michelle

San Francisco

Cam Bowerman & Christine, Jason Whitebird, Steve Gonzales, Kevin Cooke, Sarga.


Will Mallinson.

I've included two aviation photos from each location that i think are my best.

2006-02-11, 09:53 AM
Wow, that is some trip report Monty, if you didn't say you were back home in Sydney I would have guessed you were in NYC, lol. Nice job and it looks like you really enjoyed your time here.

2006-02-11, 12:08 PM
Monty, I must say that is a great report. Long and interesting the whole way through. I never found in-flight meals to be interesting until right now.

Mr Smith
2006-02-11, 12:28 PM
Art said to me last night that i love taking photos of food, i'm not sure that's correct, but if your on that kind of trip you may aswell document the rubbish you eat served by airlines!

Tom, Perth is home, we're about as close to Sydney as New York is to LA! don't mix us up or we'll get angry :)

2006-02-11, 08:15 PM
Great Trip report Monty! looking forward to perhaps posting our own once we rape and pillage in Western Oz!

Mr Smith
2006-02-13, 05:05 AM
Mario make sure you contact me when your in town!